The Space

Chapter Three

“All that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combated, suppressed — only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle.” -Nikola Tesla

It was a Tuesday morning, and Macky had gotten up extra early to get ready for the day. Yesterday, while Cyd was away, he had gotten to work on some of his extra-curricular activities. He was deep into a course on architecture, learning all about his city, Los Angeles, and the people who made it the beautifully tech-integrated place it was today.

Macky found himself walking through the streets of old LA, there were teenagers wearing flannel shirts around the waists of ripped up jeans, all of them waiting in line for something called a record store. He stopped for a moment to admire their strange haircuts and wondered about the chains on their pants, then he wandered on. He made his way through Hollywood and then on to downtown where he could see so many different generations of buildings, from the old movie theaters to the new high rises. He loved switching through time-phases and seeing the city build up around him in an instant while he stood still and watched.

He wandered down a side street, tracing his fingers along the simulated concrete of buildings changed by time and opportunity. Just then it struck him, “concrete is a solid reminder…” It was from an active mind and body course he had taken, it had been written a long time ago by one of the first teachers of the space, John Smythe IV. It was always one of his favorites because it explained how a kid went from skateboarding to photography to film, and then just kept going. Its all connected, Macky thought to himself, so he decided to transfer to the west side. This he had heard, was the birthplace of skateboarding.

Macky then found himself in Santa Monica, but the year was all wrong. He thought back to the course, and he remembered something the teacher had said, how he had first started skating when he was about seven, in 1975. Macky had remembered this because he was only a few years older when he had started at the space than Smythe was in the story. Thinking back on it now, he realized that Cyd had probably pushed him to take the class to show him that you’re never too young to start something that could lead to your dream… She was right.

So, without a second thought, he punched in another transfer and popped up in 1975. Much to his disappointment, he was not surrounded by skateboarders but instead found himself in front of a small industrial building. He threw up his arms in a huff and turned to stare up at the building, trying to gain a better understanding of his whereabouts.

Macky read the sign aloud, “Sci-Arc, why do I know that name?” He scratched his head then cartoonishly crossed his arms and began stroking a fake beard. Just then a group of men came out of the building. He counted nine, and it hit him. “It’s an architecture school, of course, I’m in an architecture program! I’ll bet this is the LA 10… but just with one missing.”

He wandered closer, trying to hear what they were saying, but before he could pick up on the conversation, they began to walk away. He turned once more towards the building, just as another man was leaving. Macky stopped to study his face, the man closed the door behind himself and as he turned around Macky recognized him.

“Cinque! Haha! I can’t wait to tell Cyd!” He was much younger than when they had seen him in the mall sim, but Macky recognized him just the same.

Cinque stopped and looked right at Macky then bent down to get on eye level. “Looks like you found me, kid.” He smiled.

Macky froze, “it’s a sim, how does he see me?” He said, looking around for someone else he might be talking to.

“I’m talking to you kid, guess you like exploring the city huh? Well, you found me in this one, so why don’t you explore one more, one we never got the chance to build.” Cinque reached in his pocket and pulled out a coin, he looked at it for a second, then flipped it over to Macky.

Macky clapped it between his hands and looked up at Cinque once more, he gave a sideways smile and patted him on the shoulder. Macky opened his hands and found that the coin had changed into a tiny blue file, like the one he and Cyd had found on the mountain, only this one read “PDX”. Macky’s jaw dropped into an excited smile, he looked to thank Cinque and saw him already walking away.

“Thank you for this!” He yelled after him, Cinque took one hand out of his pocket, and without turning gave one wave as he faded into the distance.

Macky paced back and forth at the entrance to the space, he was always excited to see Cyd, but today he was the most excited he had ever been. Through the years she had shared so much with him, but today, he thought, I get to share something with her.

“Cyd!” Macky charged her as she walked through the door.

“Stoked for the day partner?” Cyd laughed and pushed her sunglasses up onto her forehead then went to greet Macky with their usual high five/low five secret handshake.

Macky jumped into the high five and ran past her missing the second half of the shake, this was far too important. “I found something! This is big” he threw his hands up dramatically then continued pacing around her.

“What is it kiddo?” She grinned “What’s the big news?”

“You’re not going to believe it,” he said stopped walking and put both hands on his knees, bracing himself for the news he was about to lay on her. “I found Cinque again, this time in my architecture sim. I was wandering around the city, then I thought about skateboarding, so I went to the ’70s and there he was! There he was!” He threw his hands up in the air, shaking his head, “can you believe it?”

“Right on Macky, did you see something cool?” She said.

“Did I see something cool? He saw me, how’s that for cool?! I don’t know how or why, but here’s what I have to tell you, ok WOW!” He stopped for a second, still not believing it himself. “He handed me another file! Just like the one we found! He said ‘you like exploring the city, explore this one’ and he handed me the file! Something about never getting a chance to build it and then he gave it to me and then here it is, and I couldn’t wait to tell you!” He began pacing back and forth again unable to contain his excitement.

Cyd froze for a moment, “another file? He gave you another file!” She dropped her bag in excitement and picked up Macky hugging him and jumping up and down. “Another file! Another clue!”

“Ye..h” Macky forced out, “I can’t breathe.”

Cyd put him down and grabbed her bag, “Well captain, say the word!”

“WoooHooo!” Macky exclaimed, “Let’s get this show on the road!”

Minutes later the two were at their station, geared up and ready to go. “Alright Macky, you found the file, you take the lead on this one!” Cyd goggled up and put on her gloves.

“PDX, I don’t know what you are, but here we come!” Macky smiled and punched in the code for the sim.

Aerial Rendering for Original PDX Concept

Seconds later the two transported to what appeared to be a parking structure. There were strange structures around that appeared to have the technical features of an Affinity Space, but these were different, these had people living in them.

“What are these?” Said Macky straining his neck to get a better view of the small structures.

“I’m not sure,” Cyd replied, stepping in for a closer view. “I wish we had more info.”

Just then a translucent screen popped down in front of the small structures. It was more info alright, in the form of what appeared to be almost a holographic plaque, which seemed to float in front of each structure, pointing out its individual features.

“I guess we found the magic word,” Cyd laughed, and the two stepped in for a closer look.

The holoplaque read: Enchanted Pods: These small living spaces were designed with all the creature comforts a creative worker might need. Pods are also outfitted with advanced tech for research immersion.

Original Concept Sketches by Michael Rotondi

“So it’s like a small AS you can live in! Right on!” Cyd said looking around. “Well Macky, it’s your file, where should we go next?”

“Well, why don’t we take a look at the view from the top? That’s always a good place to start.” He said, leading the way to the nearest elevator.

The two ascended to the roof, and both gasped in amazement at what they saw. Large inflatable structures, each containing what appeared to be workspaces. There were creative and technical workers throughout, every person coexisting and simultaneously off on their own adventure.

“I want to try!” Macky said thrusting his arm in front of Cyd, “More info!” He shouted with excitement.

Enchanted Pebbles: Co-working spaces for the growing creative workforce and independent contractors. It was purposed that these techno-social infrastructures would be used to help support emerging vendors. The space would contain places for pure and applied research, focused on arts, engineering, and media.

“Woah, cool,” Cyd gasped, tapping Macky on the shoulder to direct his gaze upwards. “Check this out!”

Another larger, Holoplaque had appeared above the structure. Jam Pads: As well as housing the Pods, the covered parking structure on which you stand doubles as a space for makers workshops, and performance venues.

Macky ran over to the edge of the building, excited to see what more was in store for the two explorers. “Look at this park, the trees are all lit up!” He exclaimed.

Original Concept Sketches by Michael Rotondi

Cyd peered over the rail, “I don’t think those are trees Mac, but let’s go down and check it out, I hear music!”

The friends darted over to the stairwell, and raced down, Macky jumped hard at the bottom of each set of stairs. They ran over to the park to see what the lights and music were all about. They arrived to see an auditorium surrounded by the bustle of people in every direction, as well as strange light poles throughout the area, each one emitting its own light show, dancing to the music they seemed to be playing.

They looked at each other with a grin, then together they shouted, “More info!” and started laughing.

The Grove: A hub for music and entertainment, The grove is home to the reeds. Each individual reed can be used as a stand-alone interface or in coordination with the others. Reeds can project light, sound, as well as video. These features can be used in unison to perform larger musical performances. They can also be used individually, based on location, to engage people throughout their installation environment as well as taking students on historical tours, or even scavenger hunts throughout the area. Reeds can be programmed to respond to specific holidays, times of day, or even weather patterns. Designed with the user, and the city in mind, the reeds provide a multitude of interchangeable programmable functions.

Original Concept Sketches by Michael Rotondi

“These are so cool!” Macky exclaimed jumping in the air. “I wish we had these around our city!”

“That would be fun,” Cyd said looking around at the mystical city, “Let’s see what else this place has going on!”

Original Concept Sketches by Michael Rotondi

The two took off down the street, amazed at this tech wonderland, they had simmed themselves into. They explored a place called The Enchanted Jam commons, where different types of entertainment from around the world could perform. Theater, DJs, Tech, Skateboarding, all sorts of different art and technology coming together. There were different food and tech popups, even an office building that had been converted into different floors of co-op workspaces where every imaginable kind of independent contractor was able to share a workspace, and thrive together.

The people of the city buzzed with harmony and harmony and innovation. Their paths crossed all the time, and in a place like this, they were able to use those cross-sector opportunities to learn and grow within their community. The city was alive, and it fed the creativity and inspiration of all the people in it.

“I wish we could live here,” Macky said, not wanting to leave the sim.

“Maybe someday we can,” Cyd replied, kneeling down to give Macky a hug, “But you know, our city is pretty great too! It might not be exactly what Cinque and the guys had pictured here, but we’ve got a lot of this life in our own space.” She smiled.

“Someday I’m gonna come back to this place, but in the real world.” He stretched out his fingers gesturing at the city as a whole. “It might not be like this, but I’m sure if I work really hard, I can change that.”

“I know you can do it Macky, and maybe that’s why Cinque gave the file to you.” She smiled getting back to her feet. “These guys built a lot of great things in their lifetimes. There’s no telling what you can do in yours.”

“What WE can do.” Macky grinned and turned off the simulation.

Original Concept Sketches by Michael Rotondi